Selected Program Highlights in English 2015

Poetry and the question of free speech
– meet the poet Tomas Venclova

Saturday August 22 at 11:00, 1909 Sigtuna Stads Hotell

Tomas Venclova is considered one of the main poets of Eastern Europe of the 1900s. Together with Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz he has been awarded the Prize of Two Nations. Tomas Venclova has experienced the publication ban, has been exiled from the former Soviet Union and stripped of his citizenship.

In conversation with journalist Maja Aase you will meet the poet and human rights activist Tomas Venclova. Hear him read his own poetry and reflect on poetry’s meaning for us humans. The conversation will also include authors’ conditions worldwide where freedom of expression is limited as well as Tomas’s own long-standing struggle for human rights.


Opposition and struggle in today’s Russia
– meet the author and journalist Masha Gessen

Saturday August 22 at 12:00, St Pers skolas aula (assembly hall)

The author and journalist Masha Gessen is one of the main critics of the Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the acclaimed book The Man Without a Face she depicts how Putin has become the most powerful man in Russia. In Gessen’s second book Words will breake cement: The passion of Pussy Riot she has portrayed Putin’s most famous critics. Masha Gessen is continuously monitoring the current government. She considers herself responsible to continue the work of Anna Politkovskaya who was murderd and hampered to perform her writers deed.

In a conversation with Björn Wiman, Head of Culture at Dagens Nyheter, Masha Gessen discusses the developments in Russia, the lack of democratic rights and the state of the opposition in Russia today.


Poetry reading and a conversation about poetry’s role in society
– meet the poet and author Fiona Sampson

Saturday August 22 at 13:00, St Pers skolas aula (assembly hall)

The poet, author and Professor of Poetry at the University of Roehampton Fiona Sampson has been published in more than thirty languages. She has twelve books in translation, and has received the Zlaten Prsten (Macedonia) and the Charles Angoff Award (US), and been shortlisted for the Evelyn Encelot Prize for European Women Poets. Her publications include twenty-seven volumes of poetry, criticism and philosophy of language.

Sampson’s poetry shows an attention to sound and the visual presence of poetry on the page.  Ruth Padel described Sampson’s style in the Guardian: “The tone is controlled and lightly pitched; there is a lovely surface smoothness with the rough.”

Meet Fiona Sampson in a conversation about poetry. Hear her read her own poems and reflect upon poetry’s role in society.


Dorthe Nors, a unique Nordic narrative voice
– in a conversation with journalist Maja Aase

Saturday August 22 at 15:00, Gröna Ladan

She has been called ”A unique Nordic narrative voice” and has been hailed by both Oprah Winfrey and the New York Times. In 2014 she was awarded the prestigious PO Enquist price. Now she has been published for the first time in Swedish with the short story collection Karate Chop (Kantslag in Swedish) and short novel Minna Needs Rehearsal Space (Minna behöver en övningslokal in Swedish). Both books depict people whose existence is brought to a head. Dorthe builds worlds and then she destroys them, as she dissects human behavior.

Dorthe Nors will converse with Maja Aase, a journalist and former director of Swedish Radio’s Kulturnyheterna, about her writing and the characters in her stories. The characters are almost always balancing on the edge of life and hovering between sense and sensibility.


”It is the silence that is God’s answer”
– Regina Derieva, a Russian poet in Sweden


Saturday August 22 at 16:00, Sigtunastiftelsen (The Sigtuna Foundation), Main Stage

Regina Derieva was born 1949 in Odessa and came to Sigtuna in Sweden 1999 where she settled with her husband. She passed away in December 2013 and it has unfortunately been a well-kept secret that one of Russia’s most revered poets resided in Sweden for such a long time. Derieva has published some twenty pieces of work, mainly poetry, but also prose, essays and translations. The poetry has, except in book form, been published in numerous journals in Russia, the US and in Sweden.

Her works have been translated into various languages. Regina herself has translated contemporary poetry from the US, Australia, the UK, Poland and Sweden into Russian. Derieva’s poetry gained more and more attention, especially in the English speaking world in the 2000s when a number of translations were published. Several prominent poets, among them Joseph Brodsky, have expressed their admiration for her poetry.

At Sigtuna Literature Festival, we wish to draw attention to Regina Derieva with a talk about her life and work. Participating are Fiona Sampson, British poet and writer, Tomas Venclova, a Lithuanian poet and essayist, and Bengt Jangfeldt, writer and translator.

Arranged in cooperation with Sigtunastiftelsen.



To write in Putins Russia
– Masha Gessen in a conversation with her Swedish publisher Dorotea Bromberg

Sunday August 23 at 12:00, Sigtunastiftelsen, (The Sigtuna Foundation) the library

What is it like to work as a writer or journalist in Russia today? What obstacles are encountered and what risks are the writers exposed to? Here, the Russian American author, journalist and former editor Masha Gessen talks about her journalistic experiences from Putin’s Russia, a country where censorship is commonplace and journalists are silenced.


Digital publishing in a world with limited freedom of expression
– with Ragip Zarakolu, journalist and publisher and Sigtunas ICORN guest writer and Per Helin, owner and CEO of Publit

Sunday August 23 at 15:00, Sigtunastiftelsen (The Sigtuna Foundation)

Our increasingly digitized world increases the possibilities of disseminating information. By publishing books on the internet, authors have the ability to bypass traditional relationships with a publisher, distributor or reseller and sell books directly to the reader. What kind of opportunities does this create? What are the challenges and pitfalls? Does it have any impact on the book’s credibility? What is the impact on censorship?

Hear the Municipality of Sigtuna’s ICORN writer Ragip Zarakolu and Per Helin, owner and CEO of Publit, in a conversation about how the new digital society is changing the face of literature and publishing.

Arranged in cooperation with Sigtuna kommun and Sigtunastiftelsen.



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